FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
Frank Frazetta wasn’t all Sword & Sorcery, he painted some classic movie posters too

‘What’s New Pussycat?’ (1965).
It was a painting of Ringo Starr that changed Frank Frazetta‘s life. Frazetta was a comic strip artist contributing to EC Comics, National Comics (later known as DC Comics) and Avon Comics. He was drawing Buck Rogers, Li’l Abner, Johnny Comet and helping out on Flash Gordon. Occasionally he would supply his talents to MAD magazine. That’s how he produced a painting of Ringo Starr for a spoof shampoo ad for the magazine. The picture caught the attention of PR guys at United Artists who commissioned Frazetta to produce the poster artwork for their Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, Woody Allen film What’s New Pussycat? For one day’s work, Frazetta earned his annual salary. It changed his life. The success of What’s New Pussycat? led to further poster commissions for a whole slate of movies: After the Fox, The Fearless Vampire Killers, The Night They Raided Minsky’s and The Gauntlet.

The movie work led to book cover work. He painted some of the most iconic covers for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and John Carter novels. And most famously redefined Conan the Barbarian as a bulging muscled, rugged behemoth. Frank Frazetta created a whole world of these Sword and Sorcery paintings which defined the genre and became synonymous with his name.

However, I do prefer Frazetta’s movie poster artwork which beautifully captures the whole joyful spirit of the swinging sixties, before progressing towards his more recognizable style in the seventies and eighties.
Frank Frazetta’s painting of Ringo Starr for MAD magazine (1964).
‘What’s New Pussycat?’ (1965).
More fabulous Frank Frazetta movie posters, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
10:01 am
‘What, me worry?’ MAD magazine sent the best rejection letters ever
12:30 pm

Earlier this week DM posted a notorious rejection letter that EMI may (or may not) have sent to Venom in 1980; the letter (real or not) is a simple example of typewriter art, with the words “FUCK YOU” being spelled out with the respective letters (“F” “U” etc.) typed several dozen times to spell out the well-known phrase, much like the ASCII art of the mid 90s internet era.

Some have claimed, pretty reasonably, that EMI never sent out any such letter. We don’t really know one way or the other. Today’s artifact is a little bit better verified, I believe, and also not nasty or obscene in the least; in fact it is delightful. 

It takes the merest glance at any issue from the heyday of MAD (1960s-1980s?) to realize that the editors and writers there were probably real mensches—they might have been irascible but they would be dead set against any kind of corporate hardassery or uptightness. The freewheeling, exuberant, and nonconformist (fun) tone of editor-in-chief Al Feldstein’s shop is perfectly captured by a rejection letter that is undated but appears to have been sent in the 1960s, as we’ll see in a moment.

In it, Feldstein does his duty of rejecting the submission but it’s quite long and detailed and takes the trouble to treat the “contributor” as an individual (quite remarkable in what must be a form letter) and actually tells him/her to ask “What, me worry?” and contemplate the awful alternative fate of being—shudder—“ACCEPTED!”

Here it is (transcript below):

I mentioned that we know that the letter is not an Internet-era fabrication and that evidence suggests that it existed, for real, in the 1960s. I took the trouble of searching on a key phrase in the letter and was rewarded with a hit from Google Books, a periodical called The Writer dating from 1967 that references the missive as an praiseworthy example of a humane rejection letter.

Leave to the “usual gang of idiots” to identify with and empathize with the angst and pathos of submitting material to a national magazine.

Dear Contributor:-

Sorry, but we’ve got bad news!

You’ve been rejected!

Don’t take this personally though. All of us feel rejected at one time or another. At least, that’s what our group therapist tells us here at MAD. He says we shouldn’t worry about it.

So that should be your attitude: “What-Me worry?”

Besides - although you’ve been rejected, things could have been a lot worse. Your material might have been ACCEPTED!

Then where would you be?


(Signed, ‘Al Feldstein’)

Al Feldstein

P.S. Our group therapist also mentioned that many people are so rejected by a rejection that they don’t try again. And we wouldn’t want THAT! We really WOULD like you to keep sending us your article ideas and scripts. . .so we can keep sending you these idiotic rejection slips!

via Letters of Note, Pulp Librarian

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
EMI sends Venom the greatest rejection letter of all time, 1980
Let Edmund Wilson’s form rejection card inspire you in 2014

Posted by Martin Schneider
12:30 pm
MAD Magazine gives America the finger (40¢, Cheap), 1974
09:23 am

As a lowbrow, take-on-all-comers venue for satire, MAD Magazine has trafficked in shock on a regular basis. Only on one occasion did MAD cross the line to the point that the publisher himself, the great William Gaines, decided to issue an apology to the magazine’s subscribers. The April 1974 issue dispensed with the usual iconic face of Alfred E. Neuman (who wasn’t on every cover in any case) in favor of a realistic painting of the unmistakable hand gesture denoting, in aviary fashion, “Wyncha go fuck yourself?” The headline read, “The Number One Ecch Magazine.” (“Disgusting” in MAD parlance, see also “blecch” and “yecch”.)

In any case, confronted with the option of placing an upraised middle finger on their shelves, many newsstands refused. Gaines decided that the newsstands and the many, many offended readers had a point and sent out “hundreds and hundreds” of apology letters. (Does anyone out there reading this have one of those letters?) For some readers it was a watershed moment, and they would never return to reading the magazine. MAD obviously survived, but it was a tough moment for the magazine.

MAD publisher William Gaines
Maybe they were looking to offend some people—just three issues earlier, in MAD 163, the cover declared, graffiti-style, “MAD Is a Four-Letter Word!” Gaines would later imply that the “usual gang of idiots” had come up with the idea of the cover and that he wasn’t that into it, but it seems like a quintessentially Gainesian move from the man who successfully defended First Amendment issues when he withstood the withering scrutiny of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954 and insisted that the definition of “bad taste” for a horror comic might be a cover in which “a man with a bloody axe holding a woman’s head up” was holding the head “a little higher so that the neck could be seen dripping blood from it, and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.” (See here for more of his testimony, including the images he discusses in detail.)

According to, “The magazine itself was pulled and returned/destroyed from many newsstands and is now a hard-to-find collector’s item.” (True enough, it’s available for $50 on Amazon as I write this, although on eBay you can pay for less for one, it looks like. Awesomely, an uncut cover sheet for that issue sold for $40 just a couple of weeks ago.) As a user on the Collectors Society forum put it, “Many parents were P.O.‘ed and either complained or just canceled their subscriptions. William Gaines ended up sending out a letter to all subscribers in which he apologized for the breach of good taste—probably the first time Gaines has ever done such a thing.”

In an interview in the May 1983 edition of The Comics Journal, Gaines discussed the incident:

Dwight Decker: Do you feel you might have been isolated in New York, putting out the comic books [meaning the “Vault of Horror”-style comics in the 1950s], that you couldn’t really judge the reactions of the people in Oshkosh?
William Gaines: Definitely. And this is still true with MAD. We put out an issue, oh, maybe 89 years ago now, which is what we called “the finger issue,” which was, “MAD is number one,” [giving the finger] and holy Moses! The guys called me into a cover conference to look at the thing, and I said, “That’s okay. It’s not too funny, but it’s all right.” And we put it out and the roof fell in. And I was sitting here sending out apology letters by the hundreds and hundreds to people all over the country—from Oshkosh. ...
Decker: A friend of mine just told me the other day—he lives in Connecticut—he hasn’t read an issue of MAD since that issue.
Gaines: That issue so offended him?
Decker: Yes.
Gaines: Incredible. To me it’s incredible but there’s no question that a lot of people felt that way.

Here’s Gaines on Canadian TV in 1977 discussing another occasion when MAD got some flak from a very different corner of the world:

Posted by Martin Schneider
09:23 am